Guest post by April of My Feminine Mind. When I first found April’s blog I went back and read every single post. I love the passion with which she writes about her experience as a woman and the wisdom she has gained. And on this 43rd anniversary of that Church document which many see as oppressing women, I am thrilled to offer April’s post about natural family planning as the complete opposite of oppressive in her life.
I absolutely love Natural Family Planning. There are a lot of things that I love about it. The thing that stands out the most to me, however–the big, neon-sign, in-your-face-amazing thing about NFP is the ideology behind it. It begins with the premise that women are good. Because our bodies are good, we should not take what is wonderful and healthy and purposely induce a state of abnormality in it. Whereas contraception begins with the mentality that women’s bodies are flawed unless we give our bodies over to the medical and pharmaceutical industries to improve upon, NFP liberates women from this kind of negative self-talk.
I’m going to say something surprising and perhaps somewhat shocking. So be prepared. Here it comes: As the former queen of negative self-talk, (mixed in with some actual self harm) I firmly assert that NFP healed me from seven years of childhood sexual abuse. And I stand by my statement. I have written elsewhere about how profound and healing it was for me to experience pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. It was these experiences that taught me about my inherent goodness. But the thing is, after I experienced these epic journeys in self-discovery, if I then ignored all these lessons and began using contraception six weeks after my daughter was born (as my OB/GYN suggested) I would have been like a slave returning to her chains. Though motherhood initially broke through the great wall of my low self-esteem, NFP completely tore the wall down.
As I have written elsewhere, there’s an adage that states, “If you believe something but behave for a year as though you do not believe, you will not believe. If you do not believe, but behave for a year as though you do, you will believe.” My husband and I learned Natural Family Planning when our oldest was four months old. I was not fertile due to breastfeeding, but learning how my body worked and behaving as though my body were good and worthy of care and respect, convinced me that that was indeed true.
I should clarify that when I say that I am healed from the sexual abuse I experienced as a child, I do not mean that I no longer have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or that I never get sad about it or have bad days. I do. And I probably always will. But what I mean is this: I used to actually and truly believe–I absolutely KNEW that I had NO dignity. It is not an exaggeration to say that I believed I was the worst person in the world. I did not deserve respect; I was a horrible thing. Every action of mine was motivated by a fear that people would discover that I was utterly disgusting. But through practicing NFP for five years now, that is, living the truth that my body deserves respect, and that I am created good, I now have a deep and utter conviction that I am amazing. And I believe that everyone else is amazing too.
Though the culture is great at convincing women how flawed we are unless we spend large amounts of time and money tanning, waxing, lifting, plumping, dieting, altering, and changing our natural selves, I want women to really know that they are beautiful–as is. I want them to know it not because they repeat some daily affirmation saying it is so, but because they live it. And after living this truth they will truly know it from the depths of their person. And I’m convinced that our bodies can teach us this most valuable lesson. I invite women to live according to the rhythms of our bodies. Wisdom is to be found there.
- NFP Awareness Week
- The man your man could chart like